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Presentation : Bio Printing
November 28, 2014


What is 3D printing ?

3D printing, or ”additive manufacturing” (AM), is a technology invented in the
80s, which allows us to print/make three-dimensional object.
The basic process is simple : successive layers of materials are laid down in
different shapes.
AM is now used in different field such as chemistry (e.g. it is possible to print
chemical compounds), 3D food printer, and is also availaible for ”private use”
(basic ones cost around 650e), . . .
It is also used as a biotechnology - Bioprinting, using specific 3D printers called
The goal of bioprinting is to produce functional cell, tissue, organ in order to
repair or replace damaged parts of the human body.


Organ/tissue Printing

One of the most promising part of bioprinting is the possiblity to
create new organs, i.e. organ printing.


Why ?

First, it could be a solution for organs transplantation. In the US, almost
100.000 person were on the waiting list for a kidney transplantation, while only
around 15.000 transplant operation were made during the year 2012.
Printed organs take less time to be made than lab grown ones : We could actually
save a lot of life. A kidney is worth 200000$ on the black market. Less expensive
artificial organs could actually ”kill” illegal sales of organs. Furthermore, printed
tissues/organs are also expected to be used to test medecine/drugs.


Is it feasible ?

Researchers already have create parts of the human body, like blood vessel(2010),
lung tissue (2012), . . .
However, as stated before, there are , in the world, a lot of person waiting for
organ transplants, and the technology is not yet to be used on a larger scale.
-We have to be sure that the tissues/organs will not be rejected by the host’s


immune system.
-3D printers could be improved : faster printing : the process takes around 10
days at the moment. : it would take 1.690.912.929.600 hours to print a liver for
every human.
-What is a printed organ lifespan ? The technology has not really been tested
on human body yet.
- As it’s still kind of new, it might be expensive.
- We can create only a few cells/organs up to now. We need technolgy capable
of creating more complex ones.


How is it made

Bioprinting is, of course, a complex process. There are a lot of details that need
to be checked to create a living organism. However, we are going to explain the
process only on a simple tissue, First, the organs are designed using computer
assisted design software.
We can also mention material selection. We actually need to create an environement where the organ’s cell are able to live.
The organ is printed during this phase.
We need ”biocompatible” materials to create an organ : the process could actually be explained in a few words. Like a normal printer, bioprinter requiers a
specific kind of ink in order to print. It is called it ”Bio-ink” (which is actually
There are different print heads. Some are filled with cells, while the others
contain ”hydrogels” (such as collagen, alginate) which are going to support the
cells during the printing.
Process : layer of hydrogel ; bioink injected ; same operation again and again...
bioink spheroids are fusing together and the hydrogel dissolves
Then, Nature does its job...



Organ printing is not there yet. But it will arrive soon. Organovo, the leading
company in bioprinting, claims that bioprinted tissues are going to be tested
on humans by 2015. They also affirm that the first organ to be printed and
transplant will be the kidney.


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